Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of injuries, poor pre-draft workouts or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
24. LSU RB Derrius Guice
5-foot-10, 224 pounds
Key stats: Guice turned in three games with more than 250 rush yards and a total of 12 100-yard games over his 36-game career.
The skinny: Guice himself has said that he was lucky to escape growing up in a bad part of Baton Rouge, especially given that his father was murdered when he was young. But he rose to five-star recruit status after some disciplinary issues in high school and committed to LSU (over Alabama, Texas and many other schools) despite the presence of Leonard Fournette with the Tigers. Guice played in all 12 games as a freshman in 2015, spelling Fournette, and totaled 436 yards (8.5 yards per carry) with three TDs.
As a sophomore, Guice once more was the No. 2 runner but stepped up in a big way when Fournette went down with injury, turning in massive games against Missouri, Arkansas, Texas A&M and in the Citrus Bowl win over Louisville en route to first-team all-SEC honors despite starting only six games. He also stood out as a kick returner his first two seasons with a combined 695 yards on 31 returns. As a junior he was named second-team all-SEC in rushing for 1,251 yards and 11 TDs despite missing time and being slowed by ankle and knee injuries, plus a deep thigh bruise.
Opted to play in the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame despite some in his camp pleading with him not to before declaring for the 2018 NFL draft. Attended the NFL scouting combine and opted not to perform in the broad jump, shuttles or 3-cone drill.
Upside: Angry runner who seeks to dole out punishment. Always moving forward and churning his legs like pistons. Massive quads with horsepower — can squat a small house. Runs with nice, low pad level. Effective between the tackles to work small cracks and run through contact. One man usually isn’t bringing him down. Gains the tough yards — his short runs through contact are as impressive as almost any back’s in this year’s class. Rare competitiveness and warrior’s mentality.
Presses the hole well but has the burst, vision and speed to bounce it outside for a long gain. Underrated patience to let blocks develop and holes open up. Dangerous and determined in the open field — home-run hitting ability. Has great game speed and backed it up with a nice 40-yard dash (4.49) and solid 10-yard split (1.55/1.6). Subtle shiftiness and balance and doesn’t gear down often to make cuts. Flashes a spin move to get free.
Always goes full tilt. Does this look like a young man who was preserving his NFL career? Check out Guice in his final college game against Notre Dame backed up close to his own end zone — everything he brings to the table as a runner is on display on this one run. He uses great vision, then bursts through the hole, breaks two tackles in the box, angrily stiff-arms S Jalen Elliott in the open field, makes a fourth man miss and finishes with power. Just fantastic stuff:
Willing as a pass blocker and has made some strides as a receiver. Protected the football well. Productive vs. stacked boxes and SEC defenses. Dangerous kick returner who could make immediate NFL impact there.
Downside: Short arms and small hands. Play strength is good, but his bench press total (15 reps) is on the low side. Perhaps more concerning is a well-below-average vertical jump (31.5 inches), which indicates a lack of true athletic explosion and burst, even compared to other power backs.
Knee/leg injuries slowed him this past season, and even before he got hurt his 2017 tape was not as good as what he displayed in 2016. His running style could lead to higher exposure rate for injuries. Overall football intelligence has been questioned by some scouts. Shows too much disregard for his own health at times.
Limited third-down value. Likely never will be a great receiving option and needs technique work in blitz pickup. Was expected to be used more as a pass catcher in Matt Canada’s offense, but plan didn’t seem to develop fully until Guice’s final college game.
Sometimes sticks too closely to the plan — or too intent on doling out punishment? Watch here against Alabama as the run play is designed to go to the right, but the blocking on that side breaks down while the cutback options to the left looked promising:
And here’s another play later in that same game where there appeared to be a cutback lane open:
Best-suited destination: Ideally, Guice would be the first- and second-down hammer in a gap-blocking, power-run scheme where he’s paired with a third-down complement. He also might be best-suited to go to a team in a bit of a smaller, quieter market (see “Quotable” section below for context), according to people close to Guice. Teams that might be considered ideal fits for Guice include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers and Washington.
Quotable: “When people ask what kind of competitor he is, my response is, ‘The guy could have gone anywhere else and gotten every carry for three years. He came to LSU because it was his dream, and he said he wanted to compete with Leonard [Fournette] every single day.’ That takes a special kind of person to do that. He’s a little immature, yeah, and he’s on social media a lot, but [he’s not immature] not when it comes to work. He’s a guy that … he’s still needs a little more maturing to do, as most 20- and 21-year olds do. Physically, he’s a man-child. He’s never failed a drug test, and we test more than anybody in the country. We kicked Tyrann Mathieu out of school, you know? [Derrius] never failed a drug test, never got in trouble for other off-field stuff.
"[He’s] not a bad person. Some players are going to meet [NFL scouts] in person and devalue themselves because of the personality they have. I think Derrius is kind of the opposite of that … I’ve told some people I think he’d be a better fit for certain teams culturally speaking. I’d like to see him go somewhere where he’s less likely to have his interests away from football piqued. That’s where I think he can have his most success. If he goes somewhere like that, he’s going to be fantastic. He loves video games, you know? And there’s nothing wrong with that. That might be the best place for him to be, is at home playing video games. I think the world of Derrius." — LSU source
Player comp: A lot of people have made the Marshawn Lynch comparisons (including Guice himself, who idolizes Lynch), but we also see a lot of Marion Barber in his game.
Expected draft range: Late first- or early second-round pick
50. Oregon RB Royce Freeman
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
48. LSU DE-LB Arden Key
47. Ohio State C Billy Price
46. Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
45. Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
44. Texas A&M S Armani Watts
43. South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst
42. UCF CB Mike Hughes
41. USC RB Ronald Jones II
40. Maryland WR D.J. Moore
39. UTEP OG Will Hernandez
38. Stanford DT Harrison Phillips
37. Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard
36. Stanford S Justin Reid
35. Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby
34. SMU WR Courtland Sutton
33. Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
32. Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver
31. Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn
30. Texas A and M WR Christian Kirk
29. Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
28. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
27. Michigan DT Maurice Hurst
26. Texas OT Connor Williams
25. Georgia RB Sony Michel